Not a testosterone-fuelled lad, well-build, pumping, and showing off his muscles, but a man with a dimple soft smile, vulnerable eyes, and wide-open arms ever ready to embrace women. Yes, no points for guessing—Shah Rukh Khan. But he has now ticked all the boxes of the former as well.
Inventing a template of a perfect rosy romance but more than that of an ideal man. A common man who rose up the ladder of success through his hard work and not ‘family connections.’ A common man who got married before becoming a successful star. A common man who respects all religions. He reminds us of the time when India openly embraced a Delhi boy hailing from a Muslim background in a Hindu-majority nation. A time, when not every move of his was dissected and analyzed through the microscopic lens of religion.
It has become a yearly or monthly ritual to talk about this man who’s always churning news, blockbusters, and dreams in the hearts of the billions. As he turns 58, it is time to reflect on how Shah Rukh became the biggest movie star—India has ever known. More than that, what makes him stand out from the vast pool of Indian men? His charm on the millions of women living in India, his role in redefining love for generations to come, and a true symbol of meritocracy. In her book, Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh: India’s Lonely Young Women and the Search for Intimacy and Independence, Shrayana Bhattacharya writes-
“Shah Rukh represented a ’90s fairy tale—manifest proof that tenacity and talent would earn social mobility.”
He became a blueprint of what real success looks like. A man who ignited a sense of relatability, tangibility, and stronger touch with the seemingly far-away world of Bollywood. And now when you and I stargaze at him on the silver screen, it is with an awe and amazement that Wow this man made it big!
As a 20-something woman living in India, I am often met with a lot of raised eyebrows and scoff, when I express my unending admiration for him. Some retort that Khan is thrice your age, he was already a superstar when you weren’t even born. Others believe he is just another actor in the show business and being a part of his fandom is clearly immature. I was dismissed as a sappy fangirl.
But they can’t see through my emotions. They can’t feel what millions of other women like me feel. What is it about him that attracts women of all ages and backgrounds?
I went to watch his latest Atlee-directed Jawan, perched up in front of the big screen, to marvel at the cinematic experience and swoon over Shah Rukh. It was a liberating feeling, watching his film on my own as a single woman in the theatre—often a space unfriendly to women. The social composition of cinema halls in India has been predominantly male. Coming from a lower middle-class family where spending on a movie was considered a luxury, this was a rebellious act. Pursuing pleasure, watching him from my own hard-earned money was in itself a true marker of my financial independence. I was ever-ready to be labeled as a rebel to earn some respite from patriarchal society and revel in the romantic fantasy manufactured by Mr. Khan. Perhaps the very reason, we feel so drawn towards him is how he makes us feel seen, acknowledged, and heard. His one look of love is enough to melt a woman’s heart. His eyes do the talking. His romantic hero persona showcases the charm and vulnerabilities of a man in equal measures that hits home. This was visible when he played Raj in the classic redefining movie of our generation—DDLJ (1995).
I asked my mother, who has been Khan’s fan since his Fauji serial (1988) days about what could be the reason behind his massive female appeal? Smiling at me, she says “it's his eyes, those vulnerable eyes, that just reassures his ladylove that they have made the right choice.”
And we couldn’t agree more when Aditya Chopra convinced Shah Rukh—“your eyes have something that cannot be just wasted on action."
He has touched the right chords of the women like none ever could. As he turns 58 this year, All of us, his fans, reclaim the fandom and celebrate this megastar with love.
srk shah rukh khan srk shah rukh khan srk shah rukh khan